Event recap: 3 key takeaways from D+I 2019

By James Donovan on 13 August 2019


Earlier this month I attended the Defence + Industry (D+I) Conference in Canberra.

D+I is a key forum for Defence and Industry engagement, collaboration, presentations, and government announcements in the Defence and security sector.

The event attracted well over 1,100 delegates from around the country to hear from Defence and Industry leaders, discussing their ideas on collaboration in the acquisition and sustainment space.

Here’s what you need to know:

(1) Things are busy in Naval

I know, I know, big surprise! But it was good to hear how things are ramping up in the Naval Sector, and what this means for business.

First, we heard from the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Noonan, who shared that there will be no capability gaps, with the Collins class performing, with availability at it’s highest ever. Other recent highlights included transferring an M1 Abrams tank from an LHD in Sea State 2, through to work with unmanned vessels. Noonan also noted the increasing collaboration and export activity with regional countries.

We also heard from the Chief Executive of the Naval Shipbuilding Institute, Ian Irving. He discussed the needs for good communication between his organisation and Industry to ensure that the education sector can provide the required workforce. There’s a strong need for schedulers right now, which is certainly something that my engineering recruiter colleagues have noted at Kinexus.

(2)  Defence needs to work with business

A running theme of D+I was the need for both CASG and Defence Industry companies to continue to upskill and become more agile. Both sides are committed to continuous improvement, and as a result, we’re seeing much better efficiencies.

As well as the current scorecards with CASG, Primes and SMEs also have scorecards now, improving the process of working together,. The SPO reform process is ongoing, though mid-tier acquisitions are still a bit slow. There is the opportunity for Primes to support SMEs throughout that time period, with global supply chain windows improving. SMEs would benefit from Primes helping in the Commercial Management space.

Workforce challenges and skills shortages are endemic in the Defence Industry in Australia. One possible solution to ease this – which has been raised before, but we’re hearing it more and more – is potential relaxation of employment restrictions.

Tony Fraser, head of CASG, shared some really interesting thoughts on the digital-enhanced age. Cyber and data integrity is facing more and more challenges, with data breaches affecting the performance of our Defence networks. This raises the question: if data has been compromised, where is that data going?

(3)  Communication is key

Almost every Defence and Industry leader we heard from had something to say about the importance of clearer communication and better transparency.

Tony Fraser is doing a lot to advance the relationship between CASG and Industry. Defence are aware that there have been issues in the past around communication (never early enough, or not enough of it) and clarity on projects. Commitment to improving channels for innovation processes to be accelerated with the innovation hub, where currently 1 in 8 projects make it into the innovation pipeline.

By working with Industry and listening, CASG is showing its commitment to better collaboration and transparency. Early communication with Industry, accelerating processes, and improving channels for innovation are just some of the ways we can expect the working relationship between Defence and Industry to change for the better.

So that’s a wrap-up of D+I 2019.

Some of the key trends we’ve seen coming for a while now, but there were a few interesting points raised that will be worth keeping an eye on. D+I this year came down to a focus on better communication (not so many numbers and acronyms), maturing of Industry and leveraging off the technology, and acknowledging progress while still keeping ourselves grounded. For example, diversity is good but still needs to be better.

I’d say that throughout the conference there was a general feeling of openness, particularly around the discussion of collaboration and transparency. On the whole, people seemed more convinced by the efforts of both Defence and Industry to foster collaboration and improve transparency.

In the spirit of communication, collaboration, and transparency, I’m sure there will be more to share.

By James Donovan

Defence Sector Blog

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